It's been 25 years since Herbie Fletcher brought together the original Wave Warriors for the photo that captured a time in surf history that was to become iconic ... looking back, that photo seems to represent a time of innocence, a time before huge multinational conglomerates were putting big money into the sport -- and it was difficult to make a living as a professional surfer.
Now it seems like every great ride is posted on the internet before the swell is gone, and the North Shore has taken on the vibe of an industry trade show with "company" houses all up and down the beach. That makes it especially important for the surfers to get together in a celebration of what makes them united. Though their individual talents have made each of them unique, and their efforts are rewarded with contest wins, magazine covers, popularity polls, and other media coverage, that same reward system also creates a sense on isolation.
We owned the three-story wood house at Pipeline with Gerry Lopez from 1980 through 1998. It was where all the great young surfers hung in the yard, looking down the barrel of one of the most awe inspiring lefts in the world. It wasn't about the magazine covers or butt wiggling contest surfing to the beach. These surfers were the heart of what we called the "Wave Warriors."
Herb started shooting video in '83 and released the first in a series of five "Wave Warrior" videos in 1985, documenting the surfing that was happening in Hawaii. This wasn't the Wide World of Sports coverage that was being televised, this was something RAW. With an original heavy metal sound track, Martin Potter's aerial assault on Backdoor, radical jet skiing at Maaleaa, the fastest tube in the world, and barrel rolls at Pipeline, these films -- which started out as a way to document the surfers who were riding for Astrodeck -- were kind of viewed as training tapes, and kind of set the tone for most of the young Warriors we see at Pipe now.
At the end of the ASP season, when many of the pro surfers are glad to get off the road and head home to their respective corners of the world, it's a great thing to see them band together with all the same photographers that have been with them through the ups and downs of huge swells, friends passing, contest angst, and everything else that is the life of what professional surfing has become.
When I got the call from Christian last evening, he summed it up best "Mom, it's the greatest team photo ever, only Dad could have done that!"
My friend Tom Servais said he thought one of the funniest moments was when Buttons Kaluhiokalani, who had been the core piece of the first team shot showed up late and said, "You guys can't start without me" and they reshot the photo with him back at center stage.
We had shirts printed for the event with a picture of Nathan's awesome Teahupoo tube ride on the front and "In memory of Andy Irons, Marvin Foster, and Sion Milosky" on the back as mementos for all our friends that showed up.
"Incredible, to see all the people there and all the people from 25 years ago, incredible!" said Nathan.
"I wouldn't have missed this for anything," added Bruce Irons. "If I'd of left for Kauai, I wouda flown back to be in this photo!"
We have the original Wave Warrior photo (taken in '86) blown up and on the wall of our office, and now we'll have this one to hang beside it. We're so grateful to be part of such truly talented, driven, intense and completely crazy bunch of individuals who took the time to come together.
"Snap your fingers, get everyone together. It was great," marveled Kelly Slater.
A special thanks to our family friend Julian Schnabel who flew in for the photo and has helped us in so many ways.